Thursday, 4 February 2016

New Dishes and Kitchen Bits

No new recipes from me this week, cooking is still a bit hit and miss! I've been cooking a few new dishes but mostly old comforting favourites like Corned Beef Hash and am inbetween some tests to try and figure out my digestive system, which frankly I am at the point of wondering what on earth to eat and cook as everything seems to be an issue and as a result I am trying to go through the motions of meal planning in the hope I can stick to it! Its so frustrating as I love my food so am keeping faith that once these ghastly tests are out of the way I can eat 'normal' again!

Anyway enough of my moaning, one new dish, that I happily stumbled upon was this Italian Baked Eggs recipe. It was one of those completely unplanned meals, I'd been shopping on Sunday, popped in M&S to get some olives for a friend and being the recipe magnet I am picked up an in-store flyer, then saw they had a food app, which I subsequently downloaded it when I arrived home and within a few minutes saw this recipe and half an hour later it was on the table! I am not sponsored or affiliated to M&S in any way- it just all happened so seamlessly! As I had forgotten to actually buy or thaw anything for dinner too and realised I had all the ingredients it was poetry in motion!

We loved everything about this recipe - the only real changes was adding a spoonful of capers and omitting the basil (I didn't have any). I used good quality tinned tomatoes too - as its a fairly quick dish it definitely makes a difference. For the pesto I must admit I normally buy in a fairly cheap green one but stumbled across some forgotten Sacla Classic Pesto shot, which I was sent as a sample quite a while back - the pot size was the perfect amount for the recipe and the lovely Basil flavour made up for the missing basil! A definite keeper of a dish, the flavours all worked so well together though next time I will halve it - it made a lot of food! I had another portion cold for lunch and I wasn't sure if it would work cold but it still tasted good! Oh and best of all it cooks all in one pan!

As readers will know, I am a terrible magnet not just for recipe cards but cute kitchen stuff too - I have broken so many wine bottle stoppers and was delighted to find this super cute silicon flower bottle stopper! There was a couple of designs but I was good and only bought one, afterall leftover wine is a rare thing!

 This was a lesson dear reader. Do not make jam in the microwave in your soup container.

A new tea on my horizon is this beautifully presented Kenyan Earth from Williamson Tea. I received this close to Christmas but due to some health issues have only just sampled my first mug at the weekend! The tea container in itself is just so pretty, I love the elegant Elephant design and she sits happily now on top of the fridge, stuffed with my Kenyan Earth teabags. The tin tea mug is also super cute to enjoy it in! I am normally an English Breakfast drinker and this tea reminded me of it, though with a little extra body to get me going in the morning but without being overpowering. A very pleasant cuppa! I enjoyed it with a cheese and ham baguette, stuffed with my homemade green tomato chutney and it went very well!
Last but not least I am delighted to have a shiny new knob for my saucepan lid! It was my most used medium sized Meyer saucepan, that I bought somewhere close to 10 years ago - and was gutted when it finally gave up a few weeks back and fell apart in my hands - however I contacted their customer services in the vain hope of getting a replacement, as I really am not ready emotionally or financially to get a replacement pan and they sent me it for free! Yay to great customer service!


Monday, 1 February 2016

Weekly Meal Planner

Firstly, me bad - another week without posting a recipe! Our evening routine is so different now, if anything I have more time on my hands but therein lies the problem - I've either been out or too busy cooking in the kitchen and eating it!!

Last we stuck to plan apart from Friday night - I had accidentally had tuna for lunch and unsurprisingly I didn't quite fancy it also for dinner! Instead I was very bad and instead ate a mixture of bruschetta covered in custard cream spread (yes you did read that right, and I like it) and erm mini duck spring rolls! Though I did eat a lot for lunch so was not very hungry!

Whilst this is not the most appetizing looking of meals it was one of my favourites of the whole week - I borrowed the idea from Nigella of making her spicy sausage patties, though left my boyfriend unattended for a few minutes to make the patties, it was supposed to be 16 mini patties, we had 7 bigger ones but I think he preferred them like this! We had some really tasty pork sausages, I left out the seasonings other than adding my new favourite ingredient of roasted black sesame seeds, and we used Thai sweet chilli sauce instead on top. Served with home made pickled radishes, and egg fried udon we had quite a feast that at the same time felt quite virtuous!

This week took a bit of extra planning - it culminates with the next round of gastro investigations so I've been writing it armed with the bundle of paper of what I can and can't eat. Tomorrow is 6 hours nil by mouth ahead of some acid tests I am grimacing just thinking about! How will I survive lunch break I am not sure! Also I am not allowed an bran for the next week so having to check any naughty snacky packets just in case its in them!

I'm still on a bit of a purge to clear one of the cupboards - mostly as its a hassle to get to the stuff so trying to plan around using bits up and a few odds n ends! One of my colleagues has given me the gumbo recipe and am looking forward to both making and eating it!

Bacon and leek noodles 
Creamy tomato & chorizo Baked tortellini, green beans, mange tout 
Thai pork vermicelli 
Prawn and chorizo gumbo, rice 
Baba ganoush, home made flatbreads, marinated courgettes, stuffed olives

Monday, 25 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Last week passed in a food fueled blur! I seemed to be cooking non stop, I think partly distraction therapy as the fibro pain has been a bit higher than usual and partly boredom! I had been feeling completely exhausted but it may have been down to my Vitamin D was low, and now the pills have kicked in I am feeling a bit more human again! This is just a snap shot of what was being baked or eaten:

From left to right:
1) My 3rd batch of cheese scones in as many weeks - this used up a little truckle of Applewood cheddar leftover from Christmas
2) A heavenly lemon and ginger loaf cake - definitely going to re-bake and write down quantities! It was so light, lemony and little bursts of crystallized ginger made it dreamy!
3) A fridge surprise hash of fried new potatoes, greens, butternut squash in a creamy cheese and garlic sauce- not very pretty but very tasty!

We stayed fairly on plan last week, only Tuesday got completely changed. Though due to erratic shifts of my boyfriend its a bit higgledy piggledy as we are often eating at different times, so I've been trying to cook things that can re-heat fairly safely too! Just to make things extra challenging!

This week I planned, then moved everything around and think am happy now... is a mixed week of evening plans, work and friends and family feasting! Also a few freezer meals

Salt and pepper calamari, with lemony caper potatoes and green beans
Spicy Sausage patties, lettuce wraps, either freekeh or rice
Baked Camembert, my home made green tomato chutney and baguette
Corned beef hash, something green
Bread crumbed tuna steaks, sesame udon noodles + veg of some sort


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Recent Eating and Recipes

Okay, I've been a bit slack in the recipe making front... I am still cooking a lot but have been relying on tried and trusted recipes mostly, along with some other new favourites I've found in books and online! Though I have had a lot of success with a new potato side dish but realise I have no idea on quantities so must write down next time for you! Anyway, these are a few new recipes that might help give some inspiration on these cold wintery nights!

First up with a new make is these lovely little cheese scones - this is my first ever home made batch - I found the recipe here on BBC Food after a very quick web search via my phone after on a very random whim wondering how to use up some leftover Cambazola (yes, leftover would you believe!) and they came out perfectly. My scone experience is very limited and my auntie is the cheese scone queen but I have obviously inherited her scone skills, as I had to make another batch last night for work and this batch went by 10am! 

Due to my under-planning I realised after making them I had no idea where my scone cutter was and covered in flour, rummaging through a cupboard I found a star cutter - and so they became cheesy star scones instead! In fact I think it was fate as they made them bitesize and were demolished by midday at work by my colleagues:

Now the next one was Sunday's pudding - and a twist on an old Nigella favourite - the marmalade pudding cake that I blogged about way back in 2011! I realise the photo then was not brilliant, and neither is this one but its an awkard one to serve when your guests are salivating over the smells emerging from under its foil blanket! This time around instead of orange marmalade I switched it to a jar of Ginger shred marmalade and used some ready lemon juice in lieu of the orange- it was a definite winner and vanished fast despite proclaims of being too full from lunch!

Last but not least on the recipe front was another Nigella recipe and new favourite - this was taken from her 'Kitchen' book (one of my most used too) and  its a great way to use up odds n ends though a little meat heavy if you were to serve as a standalone dish, so I added some spiced garlicky greens on the side. I only ended up using one type of meat - the remains of our heavenly spiced Boxing Day gammon, also we couldn't get hold of the suggested Pomegranate seeds and I improvised by soaking some dried Barberries in hot water until plump and used them to garnish. Not quite as pretty but a worthy addition. The toasted nuts really do make this dish, plus I added a sprinkling of crispy fried onions for extra texture.

Despite my protestations over lack of cupboard space I am a liability left unattended in the shops and accidentally bought this stunning butterfly side plate - how could I resist for a mere £1.50?!

Hope you enjoy my suggestions, do let me know if you try any of them!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Oops its Monday again, I really did mean to blog a recipe but er I hmm I can't even claim I was even that busy but our home routine has changed a little due to a change of shift patterns for my boyfriend and I am trying to finally start the photography e-course I bought in July! I have done the first section at last so at least its been quite a productive week and I finally understand what ISO is (I think so anyway!!)!

Food wise I had a first on Sunday! I made Salmon en Croute for the first time! Why its taken so long I am not sure as I love this dish so much whenever I have eaten it and on a whim I decided to invite family over and give it a go, after all January is a long dreary month after all the Christmas hype etc so I thought it would be good to squeeze everyone in our tiny lounge! Luckily everyone is used to our lap trays! I think it doesn't matter what you have, old, new or inbetween - its who you have around you to share your food with is all you need in life. I was super happy too with my first attempt - perfectly cooked and clean plates all round, apart from mine - think my serving size was a bit too generous but will make a lovely lunch tomorrow!

I have not bought very much in the sales other than this amazingly bargainous awesome purchase - my new utensil jar - the nice lady in the garden centre said she would reduce down anything I wanted- and I got this cute Cookie Monster one for 75p!! I do like an eclectic kitchen!

Anyway on to the meal plan - as mentioned last week, I have started planning over 2-3 weeks instead with a rough idea based on a main ingredient in the freezer, naturally as I've misbehaved and went off list (I did write and take list to shops but by time got to store it was gone oops!) I've had to make some minor adjustments but it has been a useful exercise as I have just bumped boxes down a bit! 

I am also making an extra effort not to waste anything, last week I found a forgotten wedge of Le Roule which I had to sadly discard as it was lurking from New Year's! I have inventoried the fridge again and need to crack on with using up some of the many random jars of pickles, jams and who knows what else! Last week I finally cracked open the green tomato chutney I made in autumn last year, when it was cooking I was dubious but its mellowed beautifully and become a very pleasant to eat chutney! Just now to decide what to do with two large jars of it! 

Tonight its dinner for one - the dearest has gone to see Star Wars which held little appeal, though I really should stop nibbling on cheesy tuc's or I won't be able to finish it! The basa fillet is leftover from yesterday - my Mum dislikes Salmon so I made her own little Basa en Croutes yesterday, and following a recipe I made last year I am rather looking forward to it!

Baked camembert, part bake bread, pickled radishes (I got the cheese for 55p reduced yay!)

Sweet potato, courgette and chorizo jambalaya. Mint crème fraiche dip (using up bits)

Ham and greens hash, fried egg (more using up leftovers etc)

Ikea meatballs, rice or mash, cream gravy, green beans (Naughty Friday night meal as by Friday am exhausted!)


Monday, 11 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday W/c: 11/01/2016

Hello shiny new Monday, you came around too quickly! Can I have a few more days please?! 
Last week we stayed sort of on plan, though Thursdays dinner became spinach tortellini as the sausages were still in the freezer (oops) and Friday's Salmon got bumped to Saturday night as my lovely neighbour made us macaroni cheese-it was very welcome as I felt exhausted. We all have done the rounds since Christmas with the cold and by the end of the week, on top of having to follow the low res diet and the MRI ordeal, I was about ready to collapse in a heap! We regularly give each other a spare plate of food and I am very lucky to have such a great friend just a wall apart!

I have tried to be super organised and have actually started drafting the next few weeks meals up, using things from the freezer in rotation. After losing our freezer contents just before Christmas due to a fault, I am now a bit paranoid but it does make good sense to eat it all up! Also it helps us to stick to tighter January budgets!! Plus our store cupboard is over flowing and is a bit of a hazard to get in and out of so its for safety reasons too!!

This week will be as follows - and yes I did spend some quality time with a Nigella cookbook in the process!:

Pork and leek Sausages, cheesy potato cakes (we made them last night from leftover mash, just need to heat through), carrots, broccoli and onion gravy
Mixed meat pilaf- from Nigella 'Kitchen'- leftover gammon and cocktail sausages (not tried this before but helps use up some odds and ends!)

Home made Sweet potato & chickpea burgers in brioche buns or a wrap, creamed freekeh (maybe! Bought on a whim!) and greens 

Spaghetti with green pesto (uses up half an open jar), green beans, leeks and parmesan, pine nuts 

Turkey meatballs (from Nigella Kitchen) with rice 


Lunches are going to be a mixture of leftovers and a giant carton of Beetroot soup my dad bought me over. Planning to make some home made cheese rolls to accompany. 

Also over the weekend I am planning to make Salmon en Croute for the first time! I love this dish but somehow I don't think I have ever made - will be that or Salmon Koulibiac as I spotted a tasty looking recipe in a Hairy Biker's book and have half a side of Salmon that needs thawing and eating. Another first will be pigeon steak baguettes - never tried them before but bought a pack for 99p reduced at New Year's - going to be interesting!!

The only fresh item I have not really accounted for is a rather large wedge of cambazola - other than cheese n crackers I do need to use it up as its very ripe but can't decide yet what to do with it!
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